Frederick Douglass Character Analysis Essay

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Frederick Douglass’ first autobiographical novel, the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave, written by himself, is full of social and political statements. Said statements are a direct reflection of the hardships that many non-white people endured the 1800’s. Although Douglass’ story is about himself, his true intentions lies within his minor character that at first glance only serve the purpose of background information. Yet, with further investigation, one can begin to see the huge social implications that lied within each character. One such seemingly minor but equally important character was actually Douglass’ second owner Hugh Auld. Despite the fact that Auld only appears in a few scenes within the narrative, …show more content…
After Douglass is nearly an adult, Auld begins to allow his slave to work in a certain shipyard in order to make money that in turn would be given to his master. Long story short, racism rears its head and Douglass is unfairly beaten. It was known that the word of a slave cannot be held accountable especially in the eyes of the court. Nevertheless, Auld comes to Douglass’ aid regardless even going as far as to “[give] expressions to his feelings by pouring out curses upon the heads of those who did the deed” (pg. 63) instead of placing sole blame on the slave which was the norm. At first glance, one could reason that Auld would do this in order to protect his investment and property. However, Auld previously argued that a slave had a certain place in life and mustn’t come above that. Why defend a man that in society (including Auld’s) isn’t even a man but chattel? Such contradictory actions push towards the idea of Auld realizing that not all non-whites are supposedly savage and need to be enslaved. This change in attitude is actually compounded when he stops Douglass from hiring out his time after the incident within the shipyard. It can be strongly argued that this seemingly small backtrack was Auld’s own internal struggle to justify enslaving Douglass, a man so …show more content…
His minor characters seem only to serve as factorial intentions but amongst the paragraphs in which Douglass describes his realization that he deserved to be free, said characters take on an entirely different purpose. Even though Douglass mentions two owners, it is the second, Hugh Auld, that made such subtle political and social statements within his actions. Before one can examine the bigger picture that lies within the institution of slavery, Auld’s initial importance centered on Douglass himself. Though unintentionally, it was Auld who first helped Douglass begin to become the man he is famous for. Hugh Auld had a significant impact on his former slave by denying Douglass the right to an education which opened up a strong desire within the aforementioned author to seek out ways to learn how to read and thus started Douglass’ journey of self-discovery and respect that ultimately led to his determination to be a free man. However, one must remember that throughout the narrative, Auld began to serve another purpose which Douglass wanted to push to his Caucasian audience in the northern and southern states. His inclusion in the narrative was not just because he owned Douglass but because Auld’s character served as the perfect example of the inconsistency of slavery. Had he not been

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